Many shoppers in the United States believe that PLU codes found on stickers that label fruits and vegetables merely serve as bar codes for checkout purposes.
Instead, PLU or Price Look-Up produce codes controlled by the International Federation for Produce Standards can tell shoppers how a particular type of fruit or vegetable was grown, which is important to shoppers looking for organics.
Keep in mind the following when buying produce: The codes come in four and five digits and the first number often designates the growing method.
A fruit or vegetable that has been grown through standard agricultural methods, including the use of pesticides, receives a 4-digit PLU code label or a 5-digit PLU code label that starts with 0.
Fruits and vegetables that have been grown using organic methods receive a 5-digit PLU code label that starts with 9.
Genetically modified organisms are a big concern for many shoppers these days. As a result, a fruit or vegetable that has been genetically modified receives a 5-digit PLU code label that starts with 8.
Governments do not force grocery stores and other retailers that sell fruits and vegetables to label their produce with these codes.
Shoppers also need to keep in mind that some retailers do not care about labeling things correctly.
For example, one grocery store might label produce grown using organic methods as produce grown through conventional methods.
Experts agree that shoppers should also look for a “USDA 100% Organic” when shopping for organic produce and comparing codes.